A Kinetic Christmas Day 9

Day 9
FROM HOPPING TO SKIPPING (Approximately 3+ years)


In our book, A Moving Child Is a Learning Child we talk about the need to reframe how we look at movement in the early years. For instance, on the Kinetic Scale you might have noticed that there is no reference to "gross" and "fine" motor skills. That's because, in my view, all muscles, big and small, need the Power, Coordination, and Control necessary to get a child where she wants to go and do what she wants to do when she gets there.

The following activity is a great example of the kind of "muscle equality" little ones need for optimal growth and development.


This may just be me, but I have to say, pipe cleaners rock!

Pipe cleaners are one of the most cooperative playmates I know. They bend to a child's will and stay that way until she changes her mind.

Pipe cleaners are open to interpretation, creatively pliable, and produce instant, tactile satisfaction in the art and science of impacting your world. Cognitively, they offer unique spatial experimentation (from a straight stick to a 3D object in minutes!). And like all forms of art and construction, they present hands-on, problem solving opportunities.

Physically, pipe cleaners pack a sensory punch for the fingers. And I particularly like that although they are pliable, they present a level of resistance little fingers need to build muscle strength and control.

And they're not even messy, if you worry about things like that.

So here's a fun craft-meets-game idea they play up in the North Pole!


Start by working with your child to make a Holly Jolly Puck and Candy Cane Stick. Here's a quick how-to...

Twist together one red and one white pipe cleaner. Then bend the top into the hook shape.

Wrap a green pipe cleaner around a Happy Stick. Remove from the dowel and wrap both ends around the loops to secure. Spread to loops to create a three dimensional puck.


GAME FOR ONE. Set up a target or goal. Note: the younger the child, the larger the goal should be.  And be sure to play on the floor. The floor gives kids the room they need to move. Tables require manners!

At first, target practice may be all you need. It takes time for little ones to get the "feel" of hitting the puck, then aiming it, then correcting for the amount of force they need to make the distance between themselves and the goal. This can be endlessly fascinating, so sit back and let her play as much as she likes.

As she gets better at it, add challenge by lengthening the distance to goal or making the goal smaller.

And just for the fun (and development) of it...

Alternate hands (first right, then left, then both).

Kick the puck.

Nudge the puck with his nose, elbows, knees, etc.

Shoot the puck through her legs upside down.

Shoot the puck around or ricocheting off obstacles.

GAME FOR TWO. Provide each child with a candy cane stick and their own puck. Leave lots of time for warming up and getting a feel for the game (parallel play).

Next, take one puck away and have them pass the puck back and forth between them to get it to the goal (cooperative play). Then put the second puck back and have them simultaneously pass the pucks back and forth.

And just for the fun (and development) of it...

Make yourself a candy cane stick and act as goalie!

Wishing you a happy, healthy, and active holiday season!

P.S. If you'd like more information about A Moving Child Is a Learning Child or 900+ more ideas Move Play and Learn with Smart Steps